Shenendehowa girls’ basketball completes a 15-0 season with win over Saratoga

There was a sinister level of pleasure when Shenendehowa senior shooting guard Meghan Huerter described what her team’s 1-3-1 press did to Saratoga on Friday night in the second quarter. At one point, the Blue Streaks turned the ball over on six straight possessions.

“I love seeing teams get frustrated,” Huerter said. “I am really good friends with Abby Ray and Lauren Patnode on that team. … In the end, we played Shen basketball. We played the way we wanted to play.”

No matter if the Plainsmen were utilizing a myriad of different presses and traps and simply playing straight up, there was not a team on Shen’s schedule this season that could match them on the hardwood.

Shenendehowa used a 13-0 surge in the second quarter to seize command and drew away to produce a 75-37 victory over the Blue Streaks in the Suburban Council Tournament final.

The trio of junior point guard Jillian Huerter, Meghan Huerter and senior wing Rylee Carpenter combined to tally 52 points as the Plainsmen completed a season shortened by the coronavirus pandemic at 15-0.

“You gotta love ending your senior season on a win,” Meghan Huerter said. “I was glad that we could play. The season went by really quickly.”

The run by the Plainsmen turned a 16-9 advantage into a 29-9 cushion. It was capped by a 3-pointer by Carpenter. In all, Saratoga turned over the ball 10 times during the second quarter to trail 35-20 at intermission.

“It is exciting to see how far (the 1-3-1 press) came along,” Carpenter said. “In the beginning of the season, it wasn’t where we wanted it to be. We kept working on it and it got better and better. We feel liked it started to click at the end of the season.”

“It has been our calling card all year,” Murphy said. “We have been able to wear teams out, throwing different waves at them.”

Shenendehowa had been operating under various formations in its press, but used the 1-3-1 against Colonie and kept employing it during the league tournament. The results were wins by margins of 31, 51 and 38 points. The Plainsmen captured all 15 games this season by double-digit margins — averaging scoring 35 points more than their opposition.

“How we played throughout all those games, there was no letup,” said Meghan Huerter, who scored 17 points and is bound for Providence College. “Our starting five was really talented. All five of us could score from anywhere on the court, I believe, and even when we went to our bench, there was no stoppage in play.”

“We did such a good job this year and I am really proud of all the girls for bringing the energy every single game and doing what we had to do,” said Carpenter, who finished with 14 points. “I think what we did shows that the girls did the work during the offseason and were prepared for the season, even if it wasn’t (exactly) what we wanted it to be. It showed that we gave everything we had each game. We wanted to win.”

Jillian Huerter closed her season in fine fashion as she led all scorers with 21 points.

“She has developed her game every year and become a really high-level D-I talent,” Meghan Huerter said of her younger sister. “Just her knack of making plays and finishing through contact is something she does better than anyone in Section II.”

Saratoga played its second straight contest without leading scorer Natasha Chudy, who was out with a leg injury. Any hope for a comeback in the second half was quickly dashed as the Blue Streaks opened the third quarter making 1 of 8 shots to go along with three turnovers.

“We knew they are a talented team and that we couldn’t take them lightly,” Carpenter said. “We brought the energy.”

Shenendehowa won back-to-back Section II Class AA titles in 2019 and 2020 and had its state tournament run halted last year when the state canceled the event in the quarterfinal round. Friday was as far as this season’s squad could go.

“I thank the team for committing and doing the right things the past five weeks,” Murphy said. “We did all we could have done. We got 15 games in and I know they are grateful for that. It was really a win-win. Of course, there is the ‘what ifs’. This is a special team. They bought into the team concept offensively and defensively. It is really all them. It is an honor to coach this team and be around such a special group of seniors.”

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